Money

Love Balloons? Here’s How to Turn a Hobby Into a Fun Side Business

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Need a plan for how to make extra money at home? If you’ve got a creative side and love to make kids smile, you can combine the two and get paid to be a balloon artist. 

What does that entail, you ask? Well, you’ll twist and sculpt balloons into everything from simple swords to fanciful hats — and earn $125 and up an hour. Best of all, it only takes about $50 to get your easy side business up and running! Here’s how to become a balloon artist in five easy steps. 

1. Perfect your skills.

The easiest way to learn balloon artistry? Check out free online tutorials, such as on Todd Anderson’s YouTube.com channel, Fascinating World of Random. “You can learn all the basic options in about two weeks,” says the Dayton, Ohio, balloon artist, who’s made as much as $600 working a festival just for tips. And don’t worry you’re not artistic enough: “I’m not the greatest artist around, but the kids love my balloons anyway!” 

2. Stock up on the right supplies.

Pass up the balloons at Walmart and Party City, and make a beeline for the pro stuff, says Anderson, who recommends Qualatex 260s — they’re sturdy and easy to twist. You can find them online at Amazon.com. It’s also smart to invest in a quality pump: Anderson swears by his Filbert floor pump. It blows balloons quickly, “and in this business, time is money,” he says. 

3. Set your prices and get gigs. 

How much do balloon artists make? Check out balloon entertainers in your area to find out what they’re charging, then use the info to set your own prices per venue. For example, you may charge hourly for a party, work for tips or charge per balloon sculpture at a festival, or accept an hourly fee of $20 an hour plus tips to work at a family restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night. When you search out the competition, also take note of the sites they’re listed on. GigSalad.com and Thumbtack.com are two of the top national websites, but you may find local sites, too. 

4. Ask around. 

Search for local festivals and call or visit family-friendly restaurants on off-hours. Ask if you can provide balloon entertainment during busy family dinner times. You’ll be on your way to earning money even faster.

5. Nail your top 12 designs. 

Instead of waiting for tykes to tell you what kind of creation they want (and perhaps come up with something that’s not in your repertoire), present a list: “My basics include alligators, swords, flowers, dogs and crazy hats,” says Anderson. If kids are too little to read, hand the list to Mom and Dad to speed the line along. 

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